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Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism 
Content and Method 



BX3701 .S88x 
Current Periodicals 

38/4 • WINTER 2006 


The Seminar is composed of a number of Jesuits appointed from their provinces in the 
United States. 

It concerns itself with topics pertaining to the spiritual doctrine and practice of 
Jesuits, especially United States Jesuits, and communicates the results to the members of 
the provinces through its publication, STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF JESUITS. This is 
done in the spirit of Vatican H's recommendation that religious institutes recapture the 
original inspiration of their founders and adapt it to the circumstances of modern times. 
The Seminar welcomes reactions or comments in regard to the material that it publishes. 

The Seminar focuses its direct attention on the life and work of the Jesuits of 
the United States. The issues treated may be common also to Jesuits of other regions, to 
other priests, religious, and laity, to both men and women. Hence, the journal, while 
meant especially for American Jesuits, is not exclusively for them. Others who may find 
it helpful are cordially welcome to make use of it. 


James W. Bernauer, S.J., teaches philosophy at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. 

Richard A. Blake, S.J., is chairman of the Seminar and editor of STUDIES; he teaches 
film studies at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. (2002). 

James T. Bretzke, S.J., teaches theology at the University of San Francisco, San 
Francisco, Cal. (2006). 

Patrick J. Howell, S.J., is dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle 
University, Seattle, Wash. (2006). 

T. Frank Kennedy, S.J., teaches music and is director of the Jesuit Institute at 
Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. (2004). 

Mark S. Massa, S.J., is teaches theology and is director of the American Catholic 
Studies Program at Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y. (2006). 

Thomas J. Massaro, S.J., teaches moral theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theol- 
ogy, Cambridge, Mass. (2006). 

Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J., teaches history at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Cal. 

William E. Reiser, S.J., teaches theology at the College of the Holy Cross, Worces- 
ter, Mass. (2004). 

Philip J. Rosato, S.J., teaches theology at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, Pa. 

Thomas L Schubeck, S.J., teaches social ethics at John Carroll University, Univer- 
sity Heights, Ohio (2004). 

The opinions expressed in STUDIES are those of the individual authors thereof. 

Parentheses designate year of entry as a Seminar member. 

Copyright © 2006 and published by the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality 

Publication Office Editorial Office 

Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits Faber House 

3601 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 102 College Road 

Tel. 314-633-4622 Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3841 

Fax. 314-633-4623 Tel. 617-552-0860; Fax 617-552-0925 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism 

Content and Method 

John W. O'Malley, S.J. 


38/4 • WINTER 2006 

The first word . . . 

"Seen any good movies lately?" used to run my nails across a black- 
board. Of course, the innocent inquiry is generally intended merely as a 
conversation starter. Even more, it represents a gracious attempt to put the 
ball in play at my end of the field. In planet rec-room, where monologues 
reign supreme, we should all be grateful when someone actually asks what 
we think about anything. And of course it's flattering to have someone ask 
our opinion, even if it soon becomes apparent that the question serves 
merely as a strategy to provide a launch pad for voicing one's own opinion 
on some current offering at the multiplex. 

Throwing the proverbial wet blanket over the conversation, I usually 
respond that I'm not much of a movie-goer. I rarely go to the movies, at 
least not during the school year. On occasion this answer provokes surprise 
or disbelief: "But don't you see all the new movies to do those reviews for 
America?" With more than the usual puff of pomposity, I explain that I'm 
really a cultural historian whose area of research happens to be the Ameri- 
can film. Movies released after, say, the 1970s hold little interest for me. If 
that little outburst of pretentiousness hasn't ended the exchange altogether, 
I'd claim that the occasional film columns have provided a kind of hobby — 
or even therapy — over the last thirty-five years. After concocting measured, 
perfectly balanced, dispassionate criticism for classroom and academic 
journals, it's fun to see some new movie once in a while, let the word 
processor marinate in vitriol overnight and fire off a few entertaining com- 
ments on the decline of the West. 

Why so defensive? Maybe it's old-fashioned Catholic guilt at the 
thought that some people think I earn a living by going to the movies 
every day. Perhaps it's the irksome sense of inferiority of one in a new 
academic discipline that clearly is not as "well regarded" around the haus- 
tus table as the traditional fields, like theology and philosophy. Fellow 
Jesuit academics are likely to ask other colleagues what they think of the 
latest theologian to come a-grunting out of the Black Forest, not if they ever 
met Woody Allen or get free tickets. Not that all professorial types despise 
movies. Not at all. Some still revere Ingmar Bergman's work (from fifty 
years ago!), and even still use The Seventh Seal (1956) in class to get under- 
graduates cowering on the epistemological diving board to make a leap of 
faith into Kierkegaard. Here an implied distinction lurks under the surface: 
Foreign films are better than American films, and are thus tolerable. Getting 
headaches from reading flickering subtitles can be academically respectable, 


but cowboys and gangsters clearly are not, even though, paradoxically, 
many European directors have been serious students and enthusiastic 
imitators of Hollywood films. 

For us film people, a lot of this esteem problem is a creature of our 
own cinematic doing, and consciously so. This self-awareness may have 
made me more tolerant of the "any good movies lately" syndrome. Or 
resigned. Yes, we do include contemporary popular movies in our work, 
and yes, a lot of it is junk, but it is still worthy of serious study. Although 
they are ultimately mistaken, my Jesuit friends are quite justified in pre- 
suming that I would be able to give them a line on the latest teenage goof- 
ball comedy, since several of my colleagues actually do watch that stuff and 
write learned articles about it. 

The movement toward pop culture took place in several stages. 
Decades ago, when I first started consorting with film historians (who were 
even then chafing under the term film appreciation), we tried to crack into 
the ivied groves by following fairly traditional historical methods, at least as 
I understood them. We combed through the rapidly accumulating literature 
and did our studies of the "masterpieces" of film art. A canon of must-study 
films developed rather quickly. If any accounting angel is keeping track of 
the number of times I've slogged through "Citizen Kane" and "Battleship 
Potemkin," alone or with others, my temporal punishment in the next life 
should be significantly reduced. Even outside the shadowy corridors where 
we denizens of the dark once plied our trade amid the clatter of 16-mm 
projectors, other academics seemed to agree that some few specimens could 
be classified as significant "works of art" and therefore worthy of serious 
study in a university. These were, of course, the rare exceptions to the 
general principle that all films, especially the American variety, are artery- 
choking transfats for the mind. 

Near the end of the 1960s, under the prodding of several highly 
opinionated French critics (pardon the redundancy) writing for the journal 
Cahiers de cinema, we moved a bit away from a masterpiece methodology 
and adopted a "great man" theory. For several years, we concentrated on 
great directors, whom we called "auteurs." While outsiders in the university 
still limited the term "artist" to Bergman, Fellini, Eisenstein, and perhaps a 
half dozen others, those who did this sort of thing for a living came to 
appreciate the technical mastery of the medium and underlying values of 
those working within the Hollywood studio system. Gradually, the schol- 
arly journals turned toward John Ford, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, 
and Orson Welles. Attention shifted from the esoteric and inscrutable to the 
entertaining, to popular works created for mass audiences by huge corpora- 
tions. At this stage doctoral candidates might submerge into dissertations 
involving films with John Wayne and Doris Day, much to the amusement 


(scorn?) of their friends in other departments working on a variorum edi- 
tion of "To a Waterfowl" or "The Leptonic Decay of Pi Mesons." 

The "great man" phase marked the transition that helped film his- 
tory move away from "masterpieces" and into a much-broader conception 
of its appropriate subject matter. Once historians could turn to any type of 
film without apology, then new possibilities opened up. They could tell a 
great deal about the culture by seeing how various genres, like musicals, 
Japanese monster movies, and gangsters developed and faded away within 
a particular social context. They investigated the drive-in phenomenon, 
checked attendance records and learned about the complex relationships 
between film-going and television, and the impact both had on American 
society. They ask who really made these movies and got an insight into the 
corporate world, from the age of the moguls to the rise of the multinational 
corporate giants to the Sundance phenomenon for independent films. Who 
actually went to the movies? In what kind of theaters, where, and what 
does this pattern tell about urban/rural life? What effect did movies have on 
our perception of women's roles, of gays, of racial minorities? What have 
the courts, legislatures, and pressure groups done to try to modify their 
content? What effect did reviewers have on taste, if any? How did the 
studios operate, who made the decisions and who got the money? Many 
film historians have even become skilled archival scholars, working through 
mountains of corporate contracts and annotated shooting scripts to uncover 
what happened and why during a production cycle. What were Asians and 
Africans producing at any given time? How was the government involved, 
and what effect did movies, domestic and imported, have on developing 

This more-horizontal, more-catholic approach to a subject area, em- 
bracing elements from several of the traditional disciplines, follows the 
recent trend. Film studies entered the catalogues with Black Studies, 
Women's Studies, Holocaust Studies, Urban Studies, and the like. Any 
manner of specialized research that sheds light on the topic can be brought 
into the picture: sociology, political science, psychology, literature, biology, 
and, yes, even theology and philosophy. Some may fear that these pro- 
grams can be a bit superficial in comparison to the more traditional, well- 
defined vertical approach of the older specializations. The risk is there, to 
be sure, but so is the possibility of finding relationships that might other- 
wise escape the notice of scholars. In any event, the "masterpiece" and the 
"great men" approach to film history seem relics of another life. 

This shift in film history reflects a larger pattern. In my high-school 
and undergraduate history courses, I seem to recall that we put a lot of 
emphasis on "great men" and if not "masterpieces" then at least significant 
events that defined particular eras, from the Age of Charlemagne to the 

New Deal of FDR. For the most part, we looked at kings and wars, and 
occasionally a thinker or politician who stirred the European pot: Henry 
VIII, Descartes, Newton, Hitler, and Einstein, but not Mick Jagger or Edith 
Piaf. Church history was pretty much the same thing: saints and scholars, 
popes and decrees, councils and schisms. Good teachers could help us see 
the connections; the poor ones gave us lists of names and dates. I don't 
recall paying much attention to poets and artists, to architects or musicians 
that provided the texture for the Christian churches over the centuries. 

As I look over book reviews in recent years, it seems that historians, 
secular and ecclesiastical alike, have branched out quite a bit since my 
juniorate days. They seem to be more engaged with the lives of ordinary 
people: how did they live and worship, how did they earn money, how 
were the towns and armies and guilds organized, what did families look 
like, what were the schools teaching, what did ordinary folk do for amuse- 
ment when they had rare moments of leisure? Of course, I never went 
beyond undergraduate survey courses in history; perhaps the best profes- 
sional historians were doing this kind of thing all along, but as an outsider, 
I find the material they are writing about these days quite a bit different 
from my recollection of what we did in the classroom. 

Jesuit history fell into the same pattern. As I recall the conferences 
and readings, we kept to the same pattern of great men and masterpieces. 
We didn't have any of those national workshops that scholastics seem to 
enjoy. We were pretty much left on our own to read the biographies of 
Ignatius and the other Jesuit saints, which even as a teenager I suspected of 
gilding the chasuble a bit. The lives of Stanislaus Kostka, for example, were 
so soupy that a number of us formed a Paul Kostka club, in honor of the 
man who grew so exasperated with his brother's piety that he nearly beat 
poor Stanislaus within an inch of martyrdom. If Stanislaus was anything 
like the figure in the biographies, who could blame him? And those stories 
of the North American Martyrs presented more minutely detailed anatomi- 
cal descriptions of their ordeals than I really wanted to know. 

For masterpieces, we had the foundation documents: first of all the 
Exercises, then the daily conferences on the Constitutions, and to a lesser 
extent the Autobiography. As the years passed, we gradually assimilated a 
sense of the development of the Society from periodic but random ref- 
erences to the congregations, the generals, and various decrees. Whether 
consciously or not, we were doing in our own amateurish way what the 
professional historians of the period were doing. 

I have no complaints. But there is more to Jesuit history than names 
and dates. How Jesuits lived, how they adjusted to the needs of their times, 
and how they worked within the guidelines of the Constitutions can tell us 
a lot about our history. In the essay that follows, John O'Malley suggests 


looking at the lived experience of the early Society as another important 
point of access to our self-understanding today. His reflections provide 
valuable insights into "our way of proceeding." This is more than antiquar- 
ian lore. As we prepare for the next general congregation, we are asked 
once more to reflect on our role in the Church. We have our great men and 
our documents, to be sure, but we also have four centuries of experience to 
guide us. John's reflections could not be more timely. I hope you find them 
as illuminating and inspiring as the Seminar did. 

Richard A. Blake, S.J. 




I. Introduction 1 

The Relationship of the Society to Its History 4 

II. Five Chapters, Five Missions 8 

The Pastoral-Spiritual Mission 11 

The Ecclesiastical Mission 14 

The Social Mission 18 

The Cultural Mission 24 

The Civic Mission 28 

m. Conclusion 31 


Author's Prenote 

My treatment of this topic here is largely based on my "Introduc- 
tion: The Pastoral, Social, Ecclesiastical, Civic, and Cultural Mis- 
sion of the Society of Jesus/' in John W. O'Malley et al., eds., The 
Jesuits II: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540-1773 (Toronto: 
University of Toronto Press, 2006), xxi-xxxiv. I have, however, 
considerably expanded it and directed it now specifically to a 
Jesuit readership. 

John W. O'Malley, S.J., a member of the Detroit Prov- 
ince, is currently University Professor at Georgetown 
University. Among his extensive list of publications 
are The First Jesuits (1993) and Four Cultures of the West 
(2004), both published by Harvard University Press. 
He has also collaborated on three volumes on Jesuit 
history: The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences and the Arts, 1540- 
1773 (1999); Jesuits and the Arts (2005); and The Jesuits 
II: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540-1773 (2006). He 
is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and 
Science and of the Accademia di San Carlo Ambrosian 
Library in Milan. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism 
Content and Method 

As the early Jesuits gained practical experience in their 
various ministries, they self-consciously revised the founda- 
tional documents to reflect their understanding of their 
evolving role in the Church. Carrying out the mandate to 
renew themselves by returning to the original sources, 
Jesuits today should look beyond the documents and include 
the activities undertaken by the earliest followers of Igna- 

I. Introduction 

Within a short while we will begin preparations for General 
Congregation 35. If the four previous congregations, from 
the Thirty-first to the Thirty-fourth, are any indication, 
the preparation will entail discussion of our charism — its character, 
its limits, its elan. The congregation itself will have this issue before 
it all the time, for it will realize that whatever decisions it makes 
must be expressions of that elusive something that makes us Jesuits, 
which is what we mean by "our charism/ 7 I think we recognize the 
charism when we see it in operation, but I also think that it is 
difficult to put the reality into words and thus easy to speak in a 
slipshod manner about it. 

I offer this essay as an attempt to organize from a historical 
perspective a few aspects of our charism. I am also trying to do 
something a little more ambitious, that is, to offer some reflections 
on method. How do we get at our charism? Where and how is it 
expressed? What resources do we have at our disposal to assure us 
that we are more or less on the right track? These are big questions, 

2 <&> John W. O'Malley, SJ. 

and I do not profess to answer them in any comprehensive or 
profound way. I hope, however, to provide a few reflections about 
the content of the charism and methods for getting at it that might 
spark further reflection by others. In this endeavor I will introduce a 
"source" for helping the Society in its quest, one that we have not 
up to this point, I believe, made any deliberate and self-conscious 
use of, namely, the social history of the order. 

In its decree on religious life, Perfects caritatis, the Second 
Vatican Council reminded orders and congregations that they need- 
ed to be faithful to "the primitive inspiration" of their institutes and 

to the "spirit and aims" of their 
— — — — ^^— — founders. 1 The reminder was a 
In the Church and in the perennial message, to which, I 

Society, "return to the believe ' * e Soc ^ of [ esu ^ ha ? 

„ * . . ,7 consistently tried to give heed and 

sources has consistently . / & , 

T , . j . * . done so in a new and more m- 

been understood as return to , . . r . M 

~. . , . ~. . 7 tense way beginning after the 

official or semi-official .■> :.* ^% 01 T ° .. , 

J J JJ council with GC 31. Jesuits have, 

of course, understood that the 
^^^^^______^^ core of their "primitive inspira- 
tion" is to be found in the papal 
bull Exposcit debitum of 1550, which was a revised version of Regimini 
militantis eccleside (1540), the bull of Pope Paul III establishing the 
Society as a religious order within the Catholic Church. 

Regimini essentially incorporated into itself a slightly revised 
version of a document drawn up in the spring of 1539 by the origi- 
nal ten companions of Paris, informally headed by Saint Ignatius, to 
indicate to the papal curia what they hoped for from their new 
organization. That document, known as the "Five Chapters," might 
well be called "the five (long) paragraphs" because it fills probably 
fewer than five pages. 2 The bull in the expanded form of Exposcit 
debitum, approved by Pope Julius III on July 21, 1550, remains to this 
day the license allowing the Jesuits to operate within the Catholic 
Church. It is the charter of the Society, never superseded. As a 

Perfects caritatis, in The Documents of Vatican II, ed. Walter M. Abbott, S.J. 
(New York: Guild Press, America Press, and Association Press, 1966), 468, no. 2b. 

For text and commentary, see Antonio M. de Aldama, The Formula of the 
Institute: Notes for a Commentary, trans. Ignacio Echaniz (St. Louis: The Institute of 
Jesuit Sources, 1990). 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism -§- 3 

charter it specifies, among other things, the purposes for which the 
order was founded and the means it will use to accomplish them. 

The Society is free to make whatever changes in its Constitu- 
tions and "way of proceeding" it deems appropriate if the changes 
do not run counter to any major provision of the bull. Otherwise, 
we must, even now, appeal to the Holy See for explicit permission to 
make the change. Officially known in the Society as the Formula of 
the Institute, the bull could not be more sacrosanct. It is the equiva- 
lent of "the Rule" in other religious orders. It is the first place to look 
on the level of official documentation to discover what the Society is 
all about. It is the first place to look on the level of official documen- 
tation to discover the "primitive inspiration" or the "charism" of the 

Important though the Formula is, it hardly encompasses every- 
thing that Jesuits would understand as constitutive of their "char- 
ism." Even though the Exercises belong to the Church at large, most 
Jesuits, I suspect, would be inclined to see them as almost as consti- 
tutive of their identity as the Formula. Then there are other docu- 
ments. The Constitutions have to figure into this mix, as well as some 
of the more important letters of Saint Ignatius. The number of 
sources or wellsprings of the char- 
ism thus begins to expand, per- _________ ___ __________ 

haps almost to sprawl. This means 

that, while on one level it is rela- When Blanco became 

tively easy to describe "the primi- Ignatius's secretary in 1547, 

rive inspiration" of the Society, on ne set ahout establishing a 

others it is not so easy. careful archive of all 

I would like to complicate incoming and outgoing 

this issue a little further by adding correspondence to the 

the other "source" I mentioned superior general 

above. That source is, unlike the ___________________ 

ones just mentioned, not a docu- 
ment. It is the social history of the order especially in its earliest 
years. It is the story of what the Jesuits did rather than what they 
articulated in their formal documents. I believe that this source, even 
as it remained true to the official documents, enlarges their scope. I 
believe it can help us reconcile important facets of our history with 
our "primitive inspiration" and see with new eyes how "authentic" 
some of those facets were. I think it can help us justify — for our- 

4 <$> John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

selves and others — some of the work we are engaged in today. More 
fundamentally, it can give us a more expansive vision of our charism. 

This is a new proposal. In the Church and in the Society, 
"return to the sources" has consistently been understood as return to 
official or semi-official documents. No doubt, such documents are the 
foundation. But they cannot express the full reality. They might 
even truncate it. I would like to illustrate this proposal by an exami- 
nation of a small but extremely important portion of the Formula, the 
opening lines. The purposes of the Society are there set forth, as are 
the ministries by virtue of which the Society will accomplish those 
purposes. Below I will analyze those lines as they develop from the 
original "Five Chapters," through Regimini to their definitive form in 
Exposcit debitum, but then I will move beyond that point. 

In the foundational years of the Society — let us say up until 
the death of Ignatius in 1556 — it is possible to isolate five aspects of 
what the Society was about. I will call these aspects five "missions" 
of the Society. They are the pastoral-spiritual mission, the ecclesiasti- 
cal mission, the social mission, the cultural mission, and the civic 
mission. The first three are explicitly in the Formula, the last two are 
not. Nor are those last two clearly articulated elsewhere in the 
Society's foundational documentation. To find them we must have 
recourse elsewhere. 

The Relationship of the Society to Its History 

We are at a propitious time for such recourse. Since the late- 
nineteenth century, the Society has been engaged in historical 
research into its earliest years on a scale never attempted before, and 
we are now experiencing its fruits with an abundance that even 
fifteen years ago we had no reason to expect. At the moment, to a 
greater extent that was ever the case earlier, more scholars from 
more disciplines and from more diverse cultural backgrounds are 
engaged in researching the history of the Society. Books and articles 
are flying off the presses almost around the globe, but especially in 
France, Italy, and North America. The scholarship is of high quality. 3 

3 See John W. O'Malley, S.J., 'Jesuit History: A New Hot Topic/' America (May 
9, 2005), 8-11; for a fuller treatment, see id., "The Historiography of the Society of 
Jesus: Where Does It Stand Today?" in The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 
1540-1773, ed. John W. O'Malley et al. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999), 3-37. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism -& 5 

Although most of these scholars are not Jesuits, the founda- 
tions for their work were solidly laid within the Society. Ignatius 
himself started things off on the right foot with his insistence on 
frequent written communication within the Society. It was Juan 
Alfonso de Polanco, however, who began to build the edifice. When 
Polanco became Ignatius's secretary in 1547, he set about establishing 
a careful archive of all incoming and outgoing correspondence to the 
superior general. After Ignatius died, Polanco continued as secretary 
to the next two generals and showed the same diligence for the 
preservation of their correspondence. He both exemplified and 
stimulated a concern for accurate record keeping that would charac- 
terize the order. 

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a group of Spanish 
Jesuits under the leadership of Jose Maria Velez set about publishing 
the full correspondence of Ignatius and some related documents. 
The first fascicle rolled off the press in Madrid in 1894. This was the 
modest beginning of the Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu (MHSl), 
a series that eventually reached some 130 volumes that included all 
documentation related to the Con- 
stitutions and the Exercises, all the — ~ — — — — "~— , ^^^~~^ — 
correspondence of the first com- For its founding years the 

panions, and many other docu- Society of Jesus has at its 

ments from the early years of the disposal documentation that 
Society. At about the same time, fa fe sfcgr masg vasfl 

other important documents were ^^ that of M the other 

being published, such as Otto ,. . , . . , y 

„ & , r , . ' . ,. religious orders put together. 

Braunsberger s eight-volume edi- ° r ° 

tion of the correspondence of Pe- -_-_——_——«_ 
ter Canisius, Reuben Gold 

Thwaites's publication of seventy-three volumes of Jesuit documents 
from New France, the famous Relations, and the bibliography of 
Jesuit writers compiled by Carlos Sommervogel and others. Polanco's 
foresight in the careful keeping of records thus came to an actualiza- 
tion that he could never have imagined. The result was that for its 
founding years the Society of Jesus has at its disposal documentation 
that in its sheer mass vastly exceeds that of all the other religious 
orders put together. 

From the beginning, moreover, the Jesuits showed a very 
modern concern to promote within the Society the study and pre- 
sentation of its history, which would also be a characteristic of the 

6 <$> John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

Jesuits and persist through the centuries. As soon as Polanco as- 
sumed his office under Ignatius, for instance, he asked Diego Lainez 
to compose an account of how the Society came to be. As is well 
known, he and Jeronimo Nadal prevailed upon Ignatius to bequeath 
his story to the Society, which Ignatius eventually did by dictating it 
to Luis Gongalves da Camara. When Francisco de Borja became 
general, he commissioned Pedro de Ribadeneira to write a biography 
of Ignatius, setting off a tradition of Jesuits' "lives'' of outstanding 
members of the Society. 

In 1598 Claudio Aquaviva, the fifth general, wrote to all the 
provincials telling them to make sure the histories of their provinces 
were written. Two and a half centuries later, in 1829, hardly a 

decade after the Society had been 
— — — — --—— — — restored, the Twenty-first General 
What we now need to do, I Congregation decreed that, just as 

believe, is to make effective b 1 efc ' re ' doc *™^ pertaining to 

r ., . . , r . £ the Society's history continue to be 

use of this rich harvest of .. , / . J .. . , _, 

i i i . n . collected and compiled. The 

scholarship as we reflect on „ c tl ~ \ ~ 

1 . r T * . j Twenty-fourth General Conerega- 

our charism. In order to do .. . - ono , , ? 52 

- , ,, tion in 1892 recommended to the 

50, we need to overcome the newl dected ^ Luig Maf , 

tendency to focus exclusively ^ that the writog of the histQry 
on official documentation— of the Sodetjf§ -widely desired by 

and to some extent overcome Jesuits throughout the order/' be 
focusing exclusively on the pursued. 5 We must infer that Mar- 

first generation. ti n took vigorous action, for short- 

______ ly thereafter Jesuit historians, some 

of whom had been trained in 
modern critical methods of research, began ransacking local archives 
and writing histories of their respective provinces or assistancies. 
Some fifty such volumes were published under that impulse within 
three decades and others have continued to appear almost until the 

Except for the most recent among them, these histories show 
apologetic and hagiographic traits, yet they are sober and reliable 

See For Matters of Greater Moment: The First Thirty Jesuit General Congregations: 
A Brief History and a Translation of the Decrees, ed. John W. Padberg et al. (St. Louis: 
The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1994), 442 (decree 21). 

5 See ibid., 487 (d. 21). 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism ■& 7 

narratives, often indispensable to the researcher. As they subscribed 
to the new faith in historical objectivity promulgated especially by 
the great German masters of the nineteenth century, and as they 
adopted the methods that supposedly guaranteed it, they effected a 
corporate break with the rhetorical traditions of the Renaissance that 
up to that point had characterized Jesuit writing of history and 
biography and looked fundamentally to the telling of a good and 
edifying yarn. 

These histories, in conformity with the nineteenth-century 
model of institutional history, almost totally abstained from dealing 
with devotion or spirituality. Nonetheless, Jesuits were among the 
first Catholics to apply the new critical methods to that area, a 
development clearly under way by the 1920s. The French Jesuit 
Joseph de Guibert merits special mention, not only for his pioneer- 
ing history of Jesuit spirituality but also for founding a learned 
journal specifically dedicated to 
spirituality, and especially for be- - ^ 
ing one of the founders in 1937 of 

the magnificent Dictionnaire de Flexibility and adjustment to 
spirituals that was finally com- circumstances were thus in- 

pleted only about ten years ago. culcated from the very 

ta7u j. j x j t beginning. They were 

What we now need to do, I . . T d ,. . . f 

believe, is to make effective use of P™ciples explicit in the text 
this rich harvest of scholarship as °f the Exercises regarding the 
we reflect on our charism. In order wa V tn whtch individuals 

to do so, we need to overcome the were to be ^ ided in them - 

tendency to focus exclusively on ___ _^_ ___ ._^^^^^_ 
official documentation — and to 

some extent overcome focusing exclusively on the first generation. 
No question, the official documents are the firm and basic guidelines 
for us on our way, sanctioned by the highest authority in the 
Church and Society. They are, moreover, much easier to deal with 
than something as sprawling as the social history of the order. Yet 
unless we in some measure incorporate that history into our think- 
ing about how we came to be what we are, we not only needlessly 
narrow our horizons but even distort them. 

What we need to reckon with, in other words, is that the 
charism developed. It was not set in stone in the "Five Chapters/' 
nor even in the Formula of 1550. Yes, the "Chapters" effectively 
established the basic guidelines that have not changed. These were 

8 ^ John W. O'Malley, SJ. 

expanded and further elaborated upon in Regimini, however, and 
even further in Exposcit debitum, as I will show. Yet the missions of 
the Society, that is, the Society's roles in the world and the Church, 
extend significantly beyond the wording of those documents. 

I call attention, therefore, to the two adverbs in the description 
of purpose adopted by the Formula — "chiefly" (potissimum) and 
"especially" (preecipue). They occur in the "Five Chapters" and are 
repeated in the two bulls. They are qualifiers, and therefore leave 
the door slightly ajar. I see in that an anticipation of what I believe 
to be a characteristic of our charism and style that finds consistent 
expression in the Constitutions. Almost every provision of that re- 
markable document is accompanied by qualifications. It is a docu- 
ment filled with escape clauses. The same can be said of the direc- 
tives Ignatius offered to individual Jesuits in his correspondence. 

Flexibility and adjustment to circumstances were thus incul- 
cated from the very beginning. They were principles explicit in the 
text of the Exercises regarding the way in which individuals were to 
be guided in them. The Jesuits were certainly not the only group in 
the sixteenth century to advocate and practice flexibility in their 
undertakings. Indeed, flexibility was a quality commended by the 
humanistic tradition for persons in authority. There can be no doubt, 
however, that it was notably and strikingly explicit in the Jesuit 
ethos, even though sometimes in tension with countervailing ten- 
dencies. This is a feature of the charism that suggests the possibility 
of something genuine that is beyond the letter of the foundational 

II. Five Chapters, Five Missions 

Nonetheless, it is with the documents that we must begin. 
Here are the pertinent sections of the Formula, with indica- 
tions in boldface type of changes introduced in 1540 and 
1550 into this part of the "Five Chapters." 

"The Five Chapters" (1539) 

"Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God 
beneath the banner of the cross in our Society, 
which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism ^ 9 

and to serve the Lord alone 
and his vicar on earth, 

should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, keep what follows in 

"He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: 

to strive especially 
for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine 
and for the propagation of the faith 

-by ministry of the word, 

-by Spiritual Exercises, 

-by works of charity, and expressly 

-by the education of children and unlettered persons in Christi- 

The "Formula of the Institute" (1540), in Regimini militantis 

"Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God 
beneath the banner of the cross in our Society, 
which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, 
and to serve the Lord alone and the Roman pontiff, his vicar on earth, 
should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, keep what follows in 

"He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: 

to strive especially 
for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, and 
for the defense and propagation of the faith 

-by means of public preachings and ministry of the word of God, 

-by Spiritual Exercises, 

-by works of charity, and specifically 

-by the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity, 

-and particularly by the spiritual consolation of Christ's faithful 
through the hearing of confessions." 

The "Formula of the Institute" (1550), in Exposcit debitum 

"Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God 
beneath the banner of the cross in our Society, 
which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, 

and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse 
under the Roman pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth, 

10 ^ John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedi- 

keep what follows in mind. 

"He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: 

to strive especially 
for the defense and propagation of the faith, and 
for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, 

-by public preachings, lectures and any other ministries whatsoever 
of the word of God, and further 

-by Spiritual Exercises, and 

-by the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity, 

-and particularly by the spiritual consolation of Christ's faithful 
through the hearing of confessions and 

-by the administration of other sacraments. 

"Moreover, this Society should show itself no less useful 
-in reconciling the estranged, 
-in devoutly assisting and serving those who are found in prisons 

or hospitals, and indeed 
-in performing any other works of charity according to what will 

seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good/' 6 

Before we begin our analysis of the missions or roles of the 
Society, we need to keep two things in mind. First, the "Five Chap- 
ters" was not written by Ignatius, as we often seem to slip into 
thinking. It was a committee document. Ignatius was surely the 
inspirational center of the committee. He surely agreed with the 
contours the document assumed. But he did not write it, and we 
should not automatically assume that everything in it sprang directly 
from him. 

Second, the five roles I have isolated are interpretative catego- 
ries. They interpret the concrete reality of Jesuit motivation and 
action. Each of them is to some extent found simultaneously in 
every expression of that reality. They inform and permeate one 
another. The pastoral-spiritual mission is obviously the motivating 
force for all five. The Jesuits' civic role is an aspect of their commit- 

I have used but slightly modified and in places corrected the translations of 
these foundational documents as found in Aldama, Formula of the Institute, 3-23. In all 
instances, the emphases and indentions are my own. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Char ism -& 11 

ment to institutions of social assistance. In all they do, Jesuits operate 
under a license from the Church. And so forth. Nonetheless, we gain 
some clarity by distinguishing these roles and elaborating on each 
one's distinctive contribution to the way we go about our enterprise. 

The Pastoral-Spiritual Mission 

The papal bull faithfully reproduced the purpose the ten 
founders set forth in the "Chapters." The new order was to be "a 
Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the 
progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine and for the propaga- 
tion of the faith." "Progress in Christian life and doctrine" can seem 
generic and bland, but it needs some explanation to pinpoint its 
meaning in context. "Christian life and doctrine" can best be read as 
"Christian life and 'Christian Doctrine,'" so as to make clear that 
doctrine here most directly indicates "Christian Doctrine" in the 
sense of the basic truths to be lived and practiced. In the sixteenth 
century and, indeed, well into the twentieth century, "Christian 
Doctrine" was a synonym for catechism. In the Formula, therefore, 
the term is not to be understood as an allusion to the advanced 
education in philosophy and theology that the companions received 
at Paris. It does not presage the Jesuits' later formal cultivation of 
those disciplines and their commitment to teaching them in their 
schools. In 1539 and 1540 schools were not on their radar screen. Far 
less is it a manifesto of orthodoxy in the era of the Reformation. 

The term implies, rather, a practice-related context. It points to 
a directly pastoral concern, the imparting of basic teachings as a 
means of spiritual progress. In the sixteenth century the "war against 
ignorance and superstition" engaged both Catholics and Protestants 
and helps account for the great upsurge in catechesis that makes 
that century a turning point for it in the West. As it happened, the 
Society made an enormous contribution to this educational under- 
taking at the base level. 7 For Catholics, catechism retained its tradi- 
tional relationship to "Christian life" because catechism, whether 
done by preaching, lecturing, singing, or some other means, was 
conceived as an introduction to the ordinary obligations incumbent 


Among the more recent studies, see Michele Catto, "Alcune riflessioni sui 
primi catechismi della Compagnia di Gesu," in Anatomia di un corpo religioso: L'identitd 
dei gesuiti in eta moderna, ed. Franco Motta, special number of Annali di storia 
deUesegesi 19 (2002): 407-16. 

12 <$> John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

upon every believer, even the humblest. It was, to use an expression 
common in the era, an introduction into the "art of Christian living 
and Christian dying/' 

This meant teaching prayers, especially the Lord's Prayer. It 
meant teaching the Decalogue, especially as a preparation for confes- 
sion. It meant teaching the Apostles' Creed, usually in the form of 
stories taken from the Bible — the stories of Creation in Genesis, the 
Annunciation from Luke, and so forth. It meant, almost invariably, 
teaching the seven spiritual and corporal works of mercy as expres- 
sions of what it meant to live as a Christian. "Christian life and 
doctrine" meant precisely what John Van Engen has so helpfully 
encapsulated with the term Christianitas — basic beliefs and practices 

shared by Christians of all ages 
— — — _^_ ^__ and social classes. 8 In fact, in this 

It is here that the "pastoral" v ^ sectio " of the the ^ su " s use 

j mi // • -x iff i • j. the equivalent term — Chrishanesi- 

and the spiritual begin to n , ,. .. 

. * t xt rn j* mum — for catechism, that is, 

inform each other. The first „. ,. ^ u . .. .. „ 

T J .. , T . T ,.,., . teaching Christianity. 
Jesuits believed, as did their 

contemporaries, that This teaching was for the 

knowledge of certain basic "progress" of souls. The Latin is 

truths was necessary for projectum, which means growth, 

salvation. advancement, improvement, de- 

velopment, and, indeed, progress. 
— — — - — -— ■ — We must assume the word was 

not chosen casually. It is here that 
the "pastoral" and the "spiritual" begin to inform each other. The 
first Jesuits believed, as did their contemporaries, that knowledge of 
certain basic truths was necessary for salvation. That persuasion 
surely animated their dedication to "teaching Christianity." But they 
wanted to go beyond "salvation." They wanted to lead people 
beyond the bare minimum to something deeper, something more, 
even in a pastoral ministry as rudimentary as catechism. 

The Jesuits were certainly not the first to want to do so. They 
were the first, however, to have that concern in an articulated and 
systemic way. The explanation is, of course, the Spiritual Exercises. 
Unlike any religious order before them, the Jesuits in the Exercises 
had a formal program for their members that, if all went well, led 

8 See John Van Engen, "The Christian Middle Ages as an Historiographical 
Problem," American Historical Review 91 (1986): 519-52. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism <& 13 

them into a personal relationship with God that went beyond ritual 
performance. They wanted to share their experience of that relation- 
ship with others and lead them to a deeper spiritual life. 

Jeronimo Nadal, in one of his exhortations to Jesuit communi- 
ties on the Formula, made precisely this point. He insisted that "the 
spiritual consolation of Christ's faithfur was not restricted to the 
ministry of hearing confessions but was characteristic of all Jesuit 
ministries. This meant Jesuits were not to rest content with what was 
required for salvation but were always to strive for the spiritual 
improvement and inner consola- 
tion of those to whom they minis- — — - ^^^— ^^— 
tered. When the Formula says "es- Although the Society was not 
pecially the spiritual consolation/ 7 founded to confute 

it means, according to Nadal, that Protestantism, as has so 

spiritual progress and its correlate offm hem asserted/ it soon 

consolation, hold first place and b fo ^ up that cause, 

must be the Jesuits primary inten- , . \. . . £ 

\ a r J and in certain parts of 

tion and goal. r . „ . £ T \ 

° Europe, especially in England 

The second purpose indi- and Germany, it would 

cated in the Formula was "propa- become strongly, sometimes 

gation of the faith." Today we can almost exdusive i y/ identified 
hardly speak of Christianity with- as an anti .p rotes tant force. 

out using the word mission, yet in 

the sixteenth century mission was — — — ^— — ^-^^— 
just coming into usage in the 

sense of evangelization of peoples not yet Christian or of Christians 
lapsed into heresy or schism. The emergence of this usage coincided 
with the founding of the Society, and the word in fact occurs, 
somewhat precociously, in other places in the Formula. The Jesuits in 
relatively short order would be largely responsible for its gaining 
currency and gradually replacing the older term, even though as late 
as 1622 the Roman congregation founded that year to deal with the 
overseas missions of the Catholic Church was called the Congrega- 
tion for the Propagation of the Faith (De propaganda fide)} 


See Jeronimo Nadal, Commentarii de Instituto Societatis Iesu, ed. Michael 
Nicolau, S.J., vol 5. of Epistolae et Monumenta P. Hieronymi Nadal, vol. 90 of MHSI 
(Rome: Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu, 1962), 862, no. 66. 

10 See John W. O'Malley, S.J., "Mission and the Early Jesuits," The Way, 
Supplement 79 (Spring 1994), 3-10. 

14 ^ John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

In 1540, surely, "propagation of the faith" (or "journeying to 
the infidel") was still the technical term for the enterprise, so we 
should not be surprised that the companions here use it to express 
the fundamentally missionary character of the order they were 
founding. They had originally banded together, after all, to travel to 
Palestine as "missionaries," even though the word missionary had not 
yet been coined. As a result of their deliberation in 1539, they speci- 
fied further on in the Formula that they wanted to be bound by a 
special vow to obey the pope "for missions" (circa missiones). 

The word suggests a number of facets of the Jesuits' pastoral- 
spiritual role. It suggests, first of all, that that role is by no means 
restricted to the faithful. The wording of the Formula seems to put 
the faithful and the "infidel" on the same level of concern. It sug- 
gests, therefore, a worldwide vision, in which "the vineyard of the 
Lord" extends beyond the territories where the Church finds itself 
established. It also suggests the basically itinerant style of ministry 
the companions originally envisaged for themselves. The section of 
Part VII of the Constitutions that deals with "the distribution of the 
members in the vineyard of the Lord" indicates that the missions the 
pope might impose on individuals by virtue of the vow would be of 
short duration, generally no longer than three months. In 1540, and 
even 1550, the members of the order saw themselves as most charac- 
teristically being on the road, with lots of comings and goings. 11 

The Ecclesiastical Mission 

Instead of simply "the propagation of the faith," the Formula 
was modified in the 1550 version to read "the defense and propaga- 
tion." As has often been noted, the addition of "defense" took 
account of the growing awareness among the Jesuits of the role they 
more and more felt called upon to assume in confrontation with 
Protestantism. Although the Society was not founded to confute 
Protestantism, as has so often been asserted, it soon began to take 
up that cause, and in certain parts of Europe, especially in England 
and Germany, it would become strongly, sometimes almost exclu- 
sively, identified as an anti-Protestant force. In other parts of Europe 

See Mario Scaduto, "La strada e i primi gesuiti," Archivum Historicum 
Societatis Iesu 40 (1971): 335-90; this article is now available in a much-abridged 
translation, "The Early Jesuits and the Road/' The Way 42 (2003): 71-84. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism -& 15 

and the wider world, this trait was less operative, sometimes almost 
wholly absent, as in China and Japan. Unlike other modifications 
made in 1550 in the original bull and in the "Chapters," this one was 
not an elaboration or specification of something already present but 
was something new — which points to the obvious fact that the 
Society was an ongoing enterprise that in 1540 had not as yet as- 
sumed its full identity. 

The "defense of the faith," which in the sixteenth century 
often came down to defenses of papal primacy, does relate to the 
opening statement of the "Five Chapters": "Whoever wishes to serve 
as a soldier of God beneath the 
banner of the cross in our Society, — — — — — — ^— 

which we desire to be designated Ignat ius was pleased when 

by the name of Jesus, and to serve p pml m inted 

the Lord alone and his vicar on T , j a i ' 

„m , „ t+r*r. i Lainez ana Salmeron as 

earth. . . . The bull of 1540 almost ij.ii- £ *t 

, ,. ,. . ,. , papal theologians for the 

verbatim repeats this mention of ~ •» ^m i *'. . 

L , T r , ., m_ . T Council of Trent, which was 

the pope. In both these instances I . i r 

think that at those early dates the <*?™p a ™» °f f ™* 

companions were probably think- , f e ChuTC \ at the ht & est 

ing of the pope in his pastoral role level Yet > in the ver y earliest 

as the one who sends on missions. V ears °f the Society, neither 

But the 1550 bull indicates a he nor the others saw the 

change of emphasis from pope to Society as serving the Church 

Church, even though the papal through theological reflection 

role is still important: "to serve the and publication. 

Lord alone and the Church, his ^_ ___ ____^_^__ 

spouse, under the Roman Pontiff, 
the vicar of Christ on earth." 

The appearance of the word Church in 1550 suggests that the 
Society was coming to a greater awareness of its role in the larger 
ecclesiastical scene. It was now professedly claiming for itself an 
ecclesiastical mission. As Saint Ignatius and the others later elabo- 
rated on the character of that mission, however, they made it clear 
that they would serve the Church according to their own "way of 
proceeding." Ignatius was adamant, for instance, that Jesuits not 
assume positions in the hierarchical structure of the Church, and 
that Jesuits were not to staff parishes, the ecclesiastical unit under 
the supervision of a bishop. They were to serve the "hierarchical 

16 <0> John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

Church/' to use Ignatius's term, but in ways and to the degree that 
would not enmesh them in it. 

Jesuits in fact directly served the "hierarchical" Church in a 
number of ways when bishops welcomed them into their dioceses. 
They instructed the local clergy and gave them retreats. They exam- 
ined candidates for ordination, undertook in some places the run- 
ning of seminaries, and helped in other ways with the discipline and 
morale of diocesan institutions. In 1552 Ignatius opened the Collegio 
Germanico in Rome to prepare young Germans for the diocesan 
priesthood, and similar institutions, such as the Venerable English 
College, followed in the course of the century. More generally, the 
Jesuits, like their contemporaries in other religious orders but per- 
haps with more notoriety, engaged in apologetics and polemics in 
favor of Catholicism and of its hierarchical structure in those places 
where such engagement was needed and expected. 

Ignatius was pleased when Pope Paul III appointed Lainez 
and Salmeron as papal theologians for the Council of Trent, which 
was certainly a way of serving the Church at the highest level. Yet, 
in the very earliest years of the Society, neither he nor the others 
saw the Society as serving the Church through theological reflection 
and publication. Salmeron was incensed when an oration he gave at 
Trent was published in 1546 without his permission, because he 
believed publication of books was a distraction from "more excellent 
works of charity." 12 He and the others soon overcame this scruple 
and through their example set the Society on a course of serving the 
Church through the work of theologians like Toledo, Bellarmine, 
Suarez, and countless others through the centuries. With the found- 
ing of Jesuit universities, beginning with the Collegio Romano itself, 
this reality got a firm institutional grounding. 

"To serve the Church." As mentioned, the expression occurs 
for the first time in the bull of 1550, a document in which Ignatius as 
general now had a freer hand, presumably, than he had in the "Five 
Chapters." It succinctly expresses the ecclesiastical mission of the 
Society, but we should not assume, as so often seems to be the case 
today, that that expression was often on the lips of Ignatius as a way 
to describe what the Society was all about. In fact, if we except the 
bull of 1550, it does not occur a single time in Ignatius's writings, not 

1 9 

Epistolae P. Alphonsi Salmeronis Societatis Iesu, 2 vols., vols. 30 and 32 of MHSI 
(Madrid: MHSI, 1906-7), 1:46 f. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism -§- 17 

even in his huge correspondence, the largest extant correspondence 
of any sixteenth-century figure. The way he habitually described the 
purpose of the Society was not in service to the Church but in 
service to "souls." 

When he uses the word Church (ecclesia, iglesia, chiesa), he 
almost invariably — let's say 98 percent of the time — is referring to a 
physical edifice such as a church attached to one of our residences or 
located near it. On the relatively 

rare occasions when he speaks of — — ^— — — — — 
the Church in the larger sense, he Ignatius had a large and 

does so in formulaic ways, as in somewhat amorphous 

expressions like the bosom of the ecclesiology, which was 

Church. The well-known and . . , y\ T . . ., 

, tl ,. , ,. . . typical of the sixteenth 

notable exception to this norm is, *. *** n ** 

, il «t» i £ Tu- i ■ century. After all, the 

of course, the Rules for Thinking *.;..*. , 

with the Church." They indicate ocaiemc discipline of 

an aspect of Ignarius's mind-set , ecclesiology was in an 

that would not be so clear if we inchoate state in his day and 
had to judge it from the rest of his was not tau 8 ht m theology 

corpus. Twice in those rules he courses even at the 

describes the Church as "hierarchi- University of Pans. 

cal" (nos. 353 and 365) and does so mmm wmmmmmmmm ^ mimmmmm 
another time in the body of the 

text (no. 170). Much has been made of those three instances, and 
with good reason because he pondered over every word in that text 
over the course of many years. Nonetheless, he never again in his 
writings uses that description as such. 

Ignatius had a large and somewhat amorphous ecclesiology, 
which was typical of the sixteenth century. After all, the academic 
discipline of ecclesiology was in an inchoate state in his day and was 
not taught in theology courses even at the University of Paris. In the 
Constitutions he typically used a metaphor for the Church, "the 
vineyard of the Lord." That vineyard in which Jesuits were to be 
dispersed, of course, reached to mission lands where there in fact 
was as yet no Church. In his letters in 1555 concerning the possible 
conversion of "Claude," the emperor of Ethiopia, he could not be 
clearer that the genuine Church was the Church of the Roman 
Pontiff. Nonetheless, I think we get our best insight into his habitual 
way of thinking in the definition of Church he gave in his catechism 
lessons, for that definition is what he would time after time repeat as 

18 4> John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

he gave instruction, ''the congregation of Christian faithful illumined 
and governed by God our Lord." 13 

The Social Mission 

All three versions of the Formula give primacy of place to 
ministry of the Word. In so doing they fit the Jesuits into the pattern 
of ministry set by the mendicant orders in the thirteenth century. 
The bull of 1540 added the hearing of confessions, which fitted the 
Jesuits even more firmly into the mendicant pattern of ministry: 
preaching was generally directed to motivating the faithful to receive 

the sacrament of penance for the 
— ^ — ^— forgiveness of their sins. The list of 
This grounding also reminds ministries begins to diverge from 
us that the ministries that that pattern, however, with the 

the Society undertook did not mention of the Exercises, a form of 
fall into their lavs from on ministr y f eated b y I S natius with 

high but sprang from the n ° P rec ^ ent m ™Y of ** older 

• j i>4. fi.i-4.- orders. That ministry mvited peo- 

social reality of their times. . . . . J . r 

pie to an mward journey and pro- 

-^— — — — ^— — — vided various road maps for mak- 
ing it. Although the practice of 
retiring from one's ordinary circumstances for reflection and medita- 
tion is older than Christianity itself, the Exercises was the first book 
to organize and codify procedures in a practical, orderly, yet flexible 
way. In effect, it created the new ministry in Christianity of the 
spiritual retreat, and the promotion of that ministry contributed to 
the Jesuits' self-definition and charism. 

But also diverging from the earlier pattern was the mention of 
"works of charity." What the term meant in the concrete was the 
seven spiritual and the seven corporal works of mercy. The latter 
were in large part elaborated out of the famous Last Judgment 
scenario in Matthew 25 and, as mentioned, were generally included 
in even the briefest of catechetical texts. One of the spiritual works 
was "teaching the ignorant." This was the first work of charity the 


Sancti Ignatii de Loyola Societatis Jesu fundatoris epistolas et instructiones, 12 
vols., vols. 22, 26, 28, 29, 31, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 40, and 42 of MHSl (Madrid 1903-11, 
reprinted in Rome, 1964-68), 12:671: "Essendo la Chiesa una congregatione delli fideli 
christiani, et illuminata et governata da Dio N.S." Soon to appear is the Institute of 
Jesuit Sources' edition of many of Ignatius's letters in English translation. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism -$ 19 

Jesuits specified for themselves; as the "Five Chapters' 7 put it, "the 
education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity," that is, 
in Christian Doctrine. The phrase sends us back to the statement of 
purpose, "the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine." 

This original grounding of the Society in simple catechesis 
helps explain how later, for all the Jesuits who moved in high circles, 
many others continued to be engaged with more humble folk in 
more humble pastoral enterprises. This grounding also reminds us 
that the ministries that the Society undertook did not fall into their 
laps from on high but sprang from the social reality of their times. 
By the time the Society was founded, Europe was engaged in per- 
haps the greatest catechetical revival in the history of Christianity, a 
revival that had been going on since the end of the fifteenth cen- 
tury, and that by the middle of the sixteenth was on the verge of 
becoming a minor tidal wave. The Society rode that wave and after 
a certain point gave further energy and force to it. This was a minis- 
try, moreover, that — while members of the mendicant orders surely 
in some form or other engage in it, especially with the passage of 
time — those orders did not claim as something they were especially 

In the bull of 1550, two further specifications of works of 
charity were added, in recognition of activities in which members 
had been particularly prominent in the Society's first decade: recon- 
ciling the estranged ("peacemaking") and serving prisoners in jail 
and the sick in hospitals. This was by no means a complete list of 
what Jesuits were doing in this regard and, in fact, it fails to indicate 
some of their more interesting and innovative undertakings, such as 
the founding of refuges or asylums for prostitutes and their 
daughters, works owed to the initiative of Ignatius himself. More- 
over, it fails to indicate what is perhaps most important about Jesuit 
engagement in these works of social assistance, their commitment to 
establishing institutions to carry on the ministry. Ignatius did not 
simply offer prostitutes an understanding ear and absolution from 
their sins, but saw to the establishment of the Casa Santa Marta, a 
halfway house to nourish and help those who wanted a new way of 
life, and then went on to establish a corporation to continue to fund 
and manage the Casa. 14 

See Lance Lazar, Working in the Vineyard of the Lord: Jesuit Confraternities in 
Early Modern Italy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005). 

20 <$> John W. O'Malley, SJ. 

The mendicants, of course, as well as the monks, engaged in 
various works of charity. Charity, after all, is intrinsic to being a 
Christian. In the fifteenth century the Franciscans, for instance, were 
noted for founding the Monti di Pieta, which provided short-term 
loans to those in need. Peculiar to the Jesuits was the explicit articu- 
lation of works of mercy as an essential element of what they were 
about. They were not only preachers of the Word and ministers of 
the sacraments, they were also, and professedly, agents engaged in 
the construction of institutions of social assistance. One of the most 

interesting of such institutions, 
— — — — — . though understudied and seldom 

The early engagement of the menti ° n <f is * e Jesuit pharma- 

„ . . ' .., . ... .. £ cies, the first of which was estab- 

Society with institutions of ,. , , . „ , . T ,. , 

. , . A . . ,. /. hshed in Rome during Ignatius s 

social assistance is indicative ,._, .. i 5 ° ° 

r 1 t . lifetime. 

of another change in our 

founding fathers and li is true that the Constitu- 

te Ignatius himself a tions assi ¥ a P riorit y to s P iritual 

growing faith in the ^ ks ove y corporal (no. 650): 

... £ [The members] will also occupy 

sustaining power of , , . , Y r 

. ..... , themselves in corporal works of 

institutions and a , ., , \ f1 . (1 

. . >jt mercy, to the extent that the more 

concomitant commitment \ . .. , .. .^ 

, important spintual activities per- 

mit and their own energies allow/' 
__^_____^^__™»„ In actual practice, however, it was 

sometimes difficult to distinguish 
the two categories. Pedro Arrupe saw the work of the Jesuit Refugee 
Service, for instance, as having a threefold dimension — human, 
pedagogical, and spiritual. 16 Those seem to have been dimensions 
operative in the "corporal" works undertaken by the Society from its 
earliest years. Although, as I said earlier, we might find it helpful to 
speak of five (or more) missions of the order, we should remember 
that they are simply aspects of a single charism in which they often 
in practice cannot be distinguished. 

The early engagement of the Society with institutions of social 
assistance is indicative of another change in our founding fathers 
and in Ignatius himself, a growing faith in the sustaining power of 
institutions and a concomitant commitment to them. The very 

15 See Diccionario Historico de la Compania de Jesus, s.v. "Farmacias" (2:1377-79). 

16 See Acta Romana 18 (1980): 320. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism *& 21 

founding of the Society was an act of such faith, and especially for 
Ignatius it meant bidding farewell to his "pilgrim years/' By 1541 
"the pilgrim" had become a CEO, who would never leave his post 
from that point forward. Of course, mobility and flexibility would 
still be an ideal of the Society, but now qualified by a countervailing 
ideal. A superficial reading of Part VII of the Constitutions can leave 
one with the impression that the chief job of the superior, especially 
the superior general, is to send members of the Society hither and 
yon and then back again. But no. 623 v13 speaks of certain works and 
institutions that "continue longer and are more permanently profit- 
able," and it is in these that "the superior of the Society ought to 
employ his subjects" rather in those that endure for only a short 

In the bull of 1550 the list of ministries ends by commending 
anything that contributes to "the common good." Up to that point 
the vocabulary of the section of the Formula we have been consider- 
ing has been directly or indirectly derived from the Bible or from 
traditional Christian usage. "Common good" derives not from those 
sources but from philosophy. It appears for the first time in 1550 
after ten years of experience and after Juan Alfonso de Polanco 
became Ignatius's confidant and aide in "Fonm/Zfl-ting" official docu- 
ments. The expression implies an openness regarding what might be 
included in future "works of charity." More important, it suggests, I 
believe, a concern for this world and its betterment, a shift away 
from exclusively evangelical goals — the common good. The older 
orders doubtless had this concern and expressed it in various ways, 
as their histories make clear, but the upfront commitment to it in the 
Formula is what deserves our attention. 

I mention Polanco because I believe he would be more likely 
to think in philosophical terms than Ignatius, and also because of the 
letter he wrote to Antonio de Araoz in Ignatius's name on December 
1, 1551. 17 That is just a year after the publication of the revised 
version of the papal bull, in the wording of which he played an 
important role. In the letter Polanco presents fifteen goals the Society 
hoped to achieve through its schools. 18 The last six are various 
benefits for the cities or towns in which the schools are located, and 

Ignatii epistolae et instructiones, 4:5-9. 


I list these in John W. O'Malley, S.J., The First Jesuits (Cambridge, Mass. 
Harvard University Press, 1993), 212 f. 

22 <0> John W. O'Malley, SJ. 

the penultimate one reads as follows: "Jesuits will encourage and 
help in the establishment of hospitals, houses of convertidas [prosti- 
tutes seeking to change their lives], and similar institutions/' In the 
mind of Ignatius and the others, therefore, there was a correlation 
between the schools and works of social assistance, with a clear 
awareness of benefits for the city. 

The fifteenth and final goal Polanco offers is comprehensive 
and makes a similar point from a different perspective: "Those who 
are now only students will grow up to be pastors, civic officials, 
administrators of justice, and will fill other important posts to every- 
body's profit and advantage." That goal is directed to this world, not 
to a happy life in the next. Significant. 

The goal, moreover, could have been written by Erasmus, Pier 
Paolo Vergerio the Elder, or any of the other theorists about the 
program of studies promoted by Renaissance humanists. The 

achievement of that goal is pre- 
— — ^— ^^— — — cisely what the humanists prom- 

In the first and most obvious ised from their educational pro- 

way, the redefinition entailed S ra ™' which *"* saw \ this re ' 

1 xu. £ j.1 t -j. > sard as an antidote to the rvory- 

a major shift from the Jesuits ? , . . . . J 

T . J . 7 J J tower and strictly speculative pro- 
being in large measure a , tl _ n , \ * , ... r A 

d . . A . d A T eram of the Scholastic tradition. As 

group of itinerant preachers .., ., T .. , ,. 

d T r / . . r r . with the Jesuit dedication to cate- 

and missionaries to their Q ^^ ^ philosophy of educa- 

becoming resident tion did nQt drop from heaveR/ 

schoolmasters. nor did they develop it m isolation 

^ 1 ^^^^^.^^___^^_^_ 1 _ from their cultural milieu. That 

fifteenth goal shows how pro- 
foundly the early Jesuits had appropriated the humanists' philoso- 
phy of education and how easily they correlated it with the evolving 
mission of the Society. 

In that evolving mission there was one change, however, that 
was of absolutely primary importance and that was already under 
way in 1550 when Exposcit debitum was published. It was the mo- 
mentous impact on the Society of the decision to undertake formal 
schooling as a ministry, a decision grounded first in the opening of 
the collegio in Messina in 1548. The decision in short order affected 
almost every aspect of the Jesuits' self-understanding up to that 
moment and gave the Society an enlargement of its purpose of 
mission that was at best only potential at the beginning. In 1550 this 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism <& 23 

change, though under way, was still too inchoate to make its way 
into Exposcit debitum. 

At this point, therefore, we must abandon the formula. Abso- 
lutely essential though the Formula is for understanding the founda- 
tions of the Society, it fails to mention the ministry that would come 
almost to define the order and that in ways big and small had a 
transforming effect on all the other ministries and on almost every 
aspect of Jesuit procedure. With some qualification, the Constitutions 
suffer the same major defect. They were composed at approximately 
the same time as the Formula of 1550 and were never adequately 
revised regarding the schools before the First General Congregation 
approved them in 1558, two years after the death of Ignatius. This is 
a stunning instance of how limited and misleading official and 
normative documentation can be for understanding a social reality. 
If we look solely to the Formula, we get no guidance for the role the 
Society had in fact assumed as "the first teaching order in the Catho- 
lic Church/ 7 and we would do only slightly better with the Constitu- 

What we have here is a significant redefinition of the order 
that was never fully articulated in official documentation and at best 
was only suggested in most other writings by Jesuits. What did the 
redefinition entail? In the first and most obvious way, it entailed a 
shift from the Jesuits' being in large measure a group of itinerant 
preachers and missionaries to their becoming resident schoolmasters. 
For the schools, moreover, the Jesuits acquired huge properties. 
Despite their almost Franciscan avoidance in the beginning of 
money transactions, they became, in order to sustain the schools, 
"the first professional fundraisers. ,/19 More pointedly, they initiated 
for themselves a new relationship to learning and the arts in the 
wake of their commitment especially to the humanistic program. All 
this was initiated with the blessing of St. Ignatius. 


See Olwen Hufton, "Every Tub on Its Own Bottom: Funding a Jesuit 
College in Early Modern Europe/' in John W. O'Malley, S.J., et al., eds., Jesuits II: 
Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540-1773 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2J006), 5-23. 

24 ^ John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

The Cultural Mission 

What kind of schools were these schoolmasters operating, 
therefore, and for whom? Although some of the schools had the full 
course of studies eventually prescribed by the Ratio studiorum (1599), 
which culminated in the "higher disciplines" of philosophy and 
theology, they all taught the "lower disciplines" of the humanistic 
program — grammar, rhetoric, poetry, oratory, drama — basically the 
literary works of classical antiquity. They taught these not as a 
preparation for theology, the traditional clerical rationale for study of 
such texts, but as a program complete in itself with its own proper 
goals: providing laymen with the learning and skills they needed to 
make their way in this world. And to make their way so as to be a 
help to others and a benefit to the community in which they lived. 

This reality entailed a significant enlargement and enrichment 
of the mission of the order. The religious mission remained funda- 
mental, and the cultural mission had to be integrated into it, even 
subordinated to it. But because of the schools the Jesuits had a 
commitment to culture, to urbanity, to civilta, to conversazione, and to 
the honneste homme in the world that was new for a religious order. 

It was, in fact, this commitment to 
^^^..^..^^ ^_^^^_^^^^_ the studia humanitatis that distin- 

, r T , , euished the Jesuits culturally from 

It can be safely assumed that, ^ mendicant orders j^ or _ 

for better or worse, many derS/ tQQ/ as their various 

Jesuits knew their Cicero grams of study unmistakab i y re _ 

better than they knew the veal/ had serious commitment to 

Bwle. "learned ministry," as grounded in 

^ ___ _____ _____ __ , the institutions of learning they 

established for their own mem- 
bers. But these orders were founded before the Renaissance, and 
their programs were already fixed before the humanists' propaganda 
had reintroduced the studia humanitatis in an organized and self- 
conscious way into the Western World. Those studia were not part of 
the system of the Dominicans or Franciscans, though individual 
Dominicans or Franciscans might be proficient in them. But they 
were part of the Jesuit system, the first studies every member of the 
order undertook and the subjects that almost every member taught 
professionally at some stage of his career. The Jesuit commitment to 
the studia was thorough and systemic. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism -& 25 

A very large number of Jesuits spent their lives teaching pagan 
texts like Cicero and Virgil. They taught those texts not simply as 
models of style but as sources of ethical inspiration. As the Ratio puts 
it, mastery of eloquence is to be developed "in daily readings from 
Cicero, especially those that contain teaching about how to live 
uprightly. //2 ° If Erasmus could invoke "St. Socrates," I think some 
Jesuits were ready to invoke "St. Cicero." 21 I do not know any who 
did, but Cornelius a Lapide, the Jesuit exegete, said of a passage 
from Epictetus, "O wonder, these words ring of the Gospel, not just 
moral philosophy." 22 1 think it can be safely assumed that, for better 
or worse, many Jesuits knew their Cicero better than they knew the 

The tradition of character formation for the good of the city 
goes back all the way to Isocrates and fifth-century Athens, and was 
at the heart of the program that the Renaissance humanists worked 
so hard — and, ultimately, so successfully — to revive, thanks in 
significant measure to the Society of Jesus. I find it impossible to 
believe that teaching, day after day and year after year, the classical 
authors such as Cicero, who inculcated this ideal, did not have an 
impact on the Jesuits' sense of the mission of the Society and thus on 
their sense even of their own vocation. Did this not give them an 
anchor in this world and a concern for it that, for their times and 
particularly in the early years, was special for clerics? 

Scholarship on the Society in the past fifteen years has made 
stunningly clear the cultural repercussions for painting, architecture, 
music, theater, and dance of the Jesuit schools. 23 It is also making 


Claude Pavur, trans, and annotator, The "Ratio Studiorum": The Official Plan 
for Jesuit Education (St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2005), 166: "qui 
philosophiam de moribus continent. 


Erasmus, Convivium religiosum ("The Godly Feast"), in Opera omnia, vol. 1/3 
(Amsterdam, 1972), 254. 


Quoted in Francois de Dainville, La Naissance de Xhumanisme moderne (Paris, 
1940), 223. 


See John W. O'Malley, S.J., "Saint Ignatius and the Cultural Mission of the 
Society of Jesus," in The Jesuits and the Arts, 1540-1773, ed. John W. O'Malley and 
Gauvin Alexander Bailey (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph's University Press, 2005), 3-16. 
The literature on the subject is now so abundant as to be approaching the point of 
being unmanageable. A place to begin is the two large collections of articles that 
three colleagues and I edited: The Jesuits: Cultures, Science, and the Arts, 1540-1773 
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999), and id., Jesuits II. See also Ugo Baldini, 

26 <0> John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

clear in a new and more appreciative way the contribution of the 
Society to the sciences. 24 The Jesuit universities, but also the larger 
"secondary schools/' taught "natural philosophy" as well as literary 
subjects. This philosophy was a heritage not from Humanism but 
from Scholasticism, which was an integral part of the education the 
Jesuits themselves received, as did their counterparts in the mendi- 
cant orders. 

Jesuit commitment to "philosophy," we must remember, was, 
apart from a relatively few Jesuit universities, most strongly mani- 
fested in the study of Aristotle's works on "natural philosophy," 
what we would today call science, to which the Jesuits were, like 
their contemporaries, bit by bit giving an experimental basis. As is 
well known, the Jesuits began to operate important astronomical 
observatories, kept very much abreast of current scientific learning, 
and produced an abundant literature on scientific subjects, practi- 
cally the only Catholic clerics to do so. The reason the Jesuits devel- 
oped this aspect of the "philosophical" tradition while others did not 
is that the Jesuits were teaching the subject on a systemic basis — and 
to lay students, who generally evinced more interest in it than 
students for the ministry. 

In making this point I am not trying to make an argument in 
favor of Jesuit schools today. What I am trying to say is that the 
commitment of the Society in its early years to formal schooling 
affected our charism. It affected the Society's character, its identity, 
with repercussions down to the present. I think that it, along with 
the commitment to works of social assistance, gave the Society a 
concern for this world qua this world. That is to say, these commit- 
ments were not simply means to a higher end but good things in 
and of themselves, worthy of Jesuits' time, talent, and effort. They 
were contributions to "the common good." 

Saggi sulla cultura della Compagnia di Gesii (Padua, CLEUP Editrice, 2000). 

Here, too, the recent literature is abundant. Besides the Toronto volumes 
cited in the previous note, see Mordechai Feingold, ed., Jesuit Science and the Republic 
of Letters (Cambridge, Mass.: MTT Press, 2003). See also, e.g., Marcus Hellyer, Catholic 
Physics: Jesuit Natural Philosophy in Early Modern Germany (Notre Dame, Ind.: 
University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), and Antonella Romano, La Contre-Reforme 
mathematique: Constitution et diffusion dune culture mathematique jesuite a la Renaissance 
(Rome: Ecole franchise de Rome, 1999). 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism -$- 27 

One of the great difficulties Nadal faced as he met with new 
recruits to the Society throughout Europe was to drill into them that 
they had joined an active order, not a contemplative and reclusive 
one. His most potent words to 
them in this regard were 'The 

world is our house." 25 By this ex- Coordinated with this social 
pression he meant to emphasize reality was the educational 

the missionary orientation of the theory of the studia 

Society and to insist that Jesuits humanitatis, affirming that 

had to be ready to move to any tnose stu dies were the apt 

part of the world. But I think we instrument for producing men 
can legitimately imbue it with a dedicated to the public weal, 
further meaning. While Jesuits of fo fhe common goodm 

course looked to the world to 

come, they also had a commitment — -^^^— — — ^— 
to this house here and now, a 

commitment to work for the improvement of human society not 
simply by producing Christians who behaved themselves and per- 
formed their religious duties but who were inner-directed to the 
moral, physical, and civic well-being of the communities in which 
they lived. 

The Spiritual Exercises are a classic and thus by definition are 
open to different interpretations, as, for instance, simply a handbook 
to teach self-conquest. 26 In the context of the era in which they were 
composed, however, they have three features that are special. First, 
the meditations on the Kingdom and the Two Standards give them a 
bias towards action in this world rather than towards withdrawal 
from it. Second, the Fourth Week is unusual for an era that was 
largely obsessed with the suffering and death of Jesus, so that most 
authors would have ended the book with the Third Week. The 
Fourth Week brings with it not only salvation from sin and death 
but a newly resplendent creation. Finally, that consideration leads 
easily to the Contemplation to Obtain Love, which provides a 
splendid panorama for "finding God in all things/' 


See John W. O'Malley, S.J., "To Travel to Any Part of the World: Jeronimo 
Nadal and the Jesuit Vocation," Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 16, no. 2 (March 


See, e.g., The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Explained by Father Maurice 
Meschler, S.J., 2nd ed. (Woodstock, Md.: Woodstock College Press, 1899). 

28 ^ John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

On November 28, 2005, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach confirmed 
how important this accent is for our tradition in the Society. He did 
so in his address to a meeting of Jesuit provincials in Loyola, Spain, 
in which he said, alluding to Karl Rahner, that Ignatian spirituality is 
rooted in a positive, amicable, and joyous relationship with the 
world, that it "does not insist on seeking God outside of created 
things but rather finding Him in them/' This aspect of Jesuit spiritu- 
ality elevates the commitment to the common good to a higher 

The Civic Mission 

If we look at the pre-suppression Society, one specification of 
that commitment was, as I have already several times suggested, 
commitment to the city in which the Jesuits found themselves. 
Historians still tend to look upon Jesuit schools during that era, for 
instance, as confessional schools, even Counter-Reformation schools. 
That is an aspect of many of them, more or less important depend- 
ing on the context. But more fundamental was their role as civic 
institutions — usually requested by the city, in some form or other 
paid for by the city, established to serve the families of the city, a 
service that entailed listening to the expectations of those families 
and, when feasible, making adjustments to accommodate them — to 
the extent of sometimes teaching horsemanship and fencing. They 
were often the leading cultural institution, especially in the smaller 
cities and towns. They provided library resources in an age before 
public libraries. They provided public entertainment, sometimes on a 
grand scale. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Jesuits 
in Milan, for instance, were in charge of orchestrating for the city the 
weeklong celebrations of great civic occasions. 27 

Coordinated with this social reality was the educational theory 
of the studia humanitatis, affirming that those studies were the apt 
instrument for producing men dedicated to the public weal, to the 
common good. In the fifteenth reason, quoted above, that Polanco 
gave for Jesuits running schools, the civic dimension is crucial. The 
students will grow up to be the leaders in the community for the 

See, e.g., Giovanna Zanlonghi, "The Jesuit Stage and Theater in Milan 
during the Eighteenth Century/' in O'Malley and Bailey, Jesuits II, 530-49, as well as 
Bruna Filippi, "The Orator's Performance: Gesture, Word, and Image in Theatre at 
the Collegio Romano," ibid., 512-29. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism <$■ 29 

good of the community as "pastors, civic officials, administrators of 
justice," and so forth. In fact, of Polanco's fifteen reasons, six are "for 
the good of the locality." 

The apex of the humanist curriculum was rhetoric, the art of 
public discourse that the great au- 
thors of the classic tradition like — — - ^ ^— ^— 
Cicero and Quintilian explained as j find u difficult to bdieve 

developing out of civic institutions thaf teachi texts uke Ws 

like the law courts, the senate or £ ., f. ^ .. 

, . t . ' . , one from the De ofncus year 

legislature, and public celebrations v. ,., . 1 %/ 

°, ' . L , -^ flrrer year aid not nave an 

and as returning to those institu- . J / ■- T mjL , 

l. . ., , , .. impact on the Jesuits sense 

tions as to the places where it was **>*■". ,. ■, r .-, 

exercised. Rhetoric was commonly °f thetr vocatw " f"* °f. the 

described as "the civic science by mtsston °f the Soc,c ^- 

which we speak of civic matters." 28 ___^____— 

Rhetoric was the art of winning 

consensus so as to unite the community behind a common cause for 

the good of the city or the state. 

A text every Jesuit was familiar with and that many of them 
taught year after year was Cicero's De officiis, which I translate as 
"On Public Responsibility." Here is a well-known passage: 

We are not born for ourselves alone. . . . Everything that the earth 
produces is created for our use, and we, too, as human beings are 
born for the sake of other human beings that we might be able 
mutually to help one another; we ought therefore to take nature as 
our guide and contribute to the common good of humankind by 
reciprocal acts of kindness, by giving and receiving from one an- 
other, and thus by our skill, our industry, and our talents work to 
bring human society together in peace and harmony. (1.7.22, my 

Jesuits, I believe, would easily have correlated this passage 
with the Principle and Foundation of the Exercises, which affirms 
that we were created for the praise, reverence, and service of God. 
The Jesuits knew well that that praise, reverence, and service could 
not be divorced from concern for one's neighbor. Yet the passage 
from Cicero is directed to the betterment of this world rather than to 


See, e.g., John Monfasani, George of Trebizond: A Biography and a Study of His 
Rhetoric and Logic (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976), 208. I am indebted to Robert Maryks for 
this reference. 

30 ^ John W. O'Malley, S.J. 

one's eternal salvation. I suspect that the Jesuits would see this text 
as an amplification of the message of the Principle and Foundation 
rather than as a contradiction of it. As an amplification it gave the 
Principle and Foundation an important new modality. Please note, 
moreover, that the passage from Cicero speaks of "the common 
good/' Please note, further, that Cicero's "we are not born for our- 
selves alone" sounds hauntingly like Pedro Arrupe's "men and 
women for others." 

I find it difficult to believe that teaching texts like this one 
from the De officiis year after year did not have an impact on the 
Jesuits' sense of their vocation and of the mission of the Society. I 
find it difficult to believe that they did not work their way into the 
very fabric of Jesuit consciousness by the sheer repetition year after 
year of the teaching of texts about civic virtue in institutions geared 
to the welfare, here and now, of the city and its citizens. It is often 
said of Ignatius that he "loved the cities." 29 That is a good insight, 
but one that I am here trying to take to a deeper level by showing 
how we can consider it an integral part of our charism even though 
it cannot be clearly pinpointed in our foundational documents. In 
making this argument I am not trying to exalt the quantity and 
quality of our civic and cultural accomplishments in comparison with 
those of other religious orders. The cultural benefits the Benedictines 
have conferred upon Western civilization are incalculable. Our 
Andrea Pozzo is finally getting the recognition he deserves, but, in 
the estimation of the public, he is no rival of the Dominican's Fra 
Angelico. For all the importance of the Gesu in Rome, that church 
never had the civic significance of the Franciscans' Santa Croce in 
Florence. I am not, therefore, saying that we did more or did it 

I am saying, rather, that with us the civic and cultural accom- 
plishments assumed a new mode and were undertaken with a new 
rationale and a more explicit intentionality. I am saying that with the 
schools the Jesuits produced civic and cultural institutions that were 
new for a religious order and that had a more professedly this- 
worldly orientation in large measure because they sprang out of 
persuasions originating in the classical world, not the Christian 

See, e.g., Thomas M. Lucas, "Saint, Site, and Sacred Strategy: Ignatius, 
Rome, and the Jesuit Urban Mission," in id., Saint, Site, and Sacred Strategy: Ignatius, 
Rome, and Jesuit Urbanism (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1990), 16-45. 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism ^ 31 

world, even though they were now revived for the Christian world 
and were considered consonant with it. I am saying that the schools 
meant that most Jesuits spent most of their day in a secular space, 
not in the pulpit, the confessional, or the cloister. They taught 
secular subjects — indeed, pagan literature, as well as mathematics 
and the equivalent of physics and astronomy, and sometimes botany 
and natural history. This meant that in the vast majority of cases 
they taught secular students, not clerics or members of religious 
orders. This meant they were drawn into music and dance in ways 
unheard-of for clerics. "Ecco, i preti delle commedie." 30 This meant 
that by such engagement with science and the arts they surprised 
many people and later on, with dire consequences, scandalized the 
Jansenists. 31 

I am proposing, therefore, that our charism, and thus our 
spirituality, has a civic and cultural mode. This is a mode that in our 
history has for the most part been implicit rather than explicit. It has 
manifested itself in deeds rather than in words, by what we can 
infer rather than by what we can directly verify. This mode or 
dimension, not clearly found in our normative documents, can be 
retrieved only by looking beyond them to see how they were modi- 
fied, amplified, and enriched in the actual lived reality. 

III. Conclusion 

I am not arguing for a reinstatement in our schools of the tradi- 
tion of Latin and Greek classics. I am not even arguing in favor 
of schools as a preferred instrument of Jesuit ministry. I am 
arguing, rather, that this tradition and the schools which appropri- 
ated it gave a shape to our charism that, independent of them, 
helped make us what we are as Jesuits. I am arguing that somehow 
the charism as modified by those realities has worked its way into 
the fabric of our corporate soul, and we therefore make our contem- 
porary decisions in some conformity with it almost without reflec- 


See O'Malley, First Jesuits, 224. 


See, for instance, the two articles by Marc Fumaroli, "The Fertility and 
Shortcomings of Jesuit Rhetoric: The Jesuit Case," in O'Malley and Bailey, Jesuits, 90- 
106, and "Between the Rigorist Hammer and the Deist Anvil: The Fate of the Jesuits 
in Eighteenth-Century France," in O'Malley and Bailey, Jesuits II, 682-90. 

32 ^ John W. O'Malley, SJ. 

tion. I am arguing, most fundamentally, that we need to be expan- 
sive in our quest to locate and understand our charism and to 
continue to appropriate it today. 

If we need to test our fidelity in that quest, I think our eccen- 
trics can be of help. By eccentrics I mean those Jesuits whose lives 
were "out of the center" in that they are beyond the ordinary, 
beyond what we meet in most Jesuits, including ourselves. It is in 
the exaggeration, paradoxically, that the norm is found. The saints 
and martyrs of the Society are obviously the first to fall into this 
category, and we have always exalted them as being preeminent 
instances of what our charism means when it is fully realized. By 
being "too much," they are just right when it comes to understand- 
ing what we are about. 

It is important, however, to move beyond the saints. In seven- 
teenth-century France, Gerard Manley Hopkins would not have 
been considered an eccentric, because many Jesuits were writing and 
publishing poetry. 32 In the nineteenth-century Society of Jesus in 
Britain, however, he certainly was an eccentric and suffered accord- 
ingly. But today I think most of us would recognize what he did as 
preeminently Jesuit. The same could be said of those eccentrics in 
the Chinese mission like Matteo Ricci and others like him. In the 
eighteenth century Ruggiero Boscovich, probably the greatest scien- 
tist the Society ever produced, tried to come to terms with the new 
science, and thus with the Enlightenment, and was accepted as an 
equal among the learned of his day. 33 Even more, I think the corpo- 
rate effort that resulted in the Paraguayan Reductions is even more 
characteristic of the Society and its effort to alleviate injustices and to 
provide for the common good. 34 Coming closer to our own times, do 


See, e.g., La Lyre jesuite: Anthologie de poemes latins, 1620-1730 (Geneva: Droz, 
1999), and Yasmin Annabel Haskell, Loyola's Bees: Ideology and Industry in Jesuit Latin 
Didactic Poetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). 

See, e.g., the two articles on him: Ugo Baldini, "The Reception of a Theory: 
A Provisional Syllabus of Boscovich Literature, 1746-1800," in O'Malley, and Bailey, 
Jesuits II, 405-50, and Larry Wolff, "Boscovich in the Balkans: A Jesuit Perspective on 
Orthodox Christianity," ibid., 738-71. See also the suggestive study by Antonio 
Trampus, J gesuiti e filluminismo: Politica e religione in Austria e nelfEuropa centrale, 
1773-1798 (Florence: L. S. Olschki, 2000); in this work the author shows how Jesuits 
in Central Europe tried to come to terms with the Enlightenment. 

34 See, e.g., Ram6n Gutierrez and Graciela Maria Vinuales, "The Artistic and 
Architectural Legacy of the Jesuits in Spanish America," in O'Malley and Bailey, 

Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism -& 33 

we not want to claim Teilhard de Chardin as preeminently one of 
our own, and, even if we may not agree with his theories, do we 
not find that the image of him digging away at archeological sites in 
China captures an important aspect of the adventure of our voca- 

Although I do not want to try to list authentic articulations of 
our charism today, I will adduce one contemporary institution 
founded, funded, and staffed by Jesuits that indicates how new 
modalities express the tradition in a way appropriate to our times. 
That institution is the Jesuit Refugee Service. 35 Did not Pedro Arrupe 
speak for us all when he said in connection with the JRS, 'The plight 
of the world so deeply wounds our sensibilities as Jesuits that it sets 
the inmost fibers of our apostolic zeal a-tingling"? 36 I think, finally, 
that it is important to keep in mind what Michel de Certeau, S.J., 
provocatively remarked several decades ago about religious charism: 
everything that injects the poison of the present into such a tradition 
is what saves it from inertia and ossification. 37 

Jesuits, 269-310, which ranges beyond what the title suggests. 


See Kevin O'Brien, "Consolation in Action: The Jesuit Refugee Service and 
the Ministry of Accompaniment/' Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 37, no. 4 (Winter 


Pedro Arrupe, "Rooted and Grounded in Love," in The Spiritual Legacy of 
Pedro Arrupe, S.J. (New York: New York Province of the Society of Jesus, 1985), 188. 

See Michel de Certeau, "Le Mythe des origines," in La Faiblesse de croire, ed. 
Luce Giard (Paris: Seuil, 1987), 53-74, esp. 69. 

Past Issues: Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 

(For prices, see inside back cover.) 

1/1 Sheets, Profile of the Contemporary Jesuit (Sept. 1969) 
1/2 Ganss, Authentic Spiritual Exercises: History and Terminology (Nov. 1969) 
2/1 Burke, Institution and Person (Feb. 1970) 
2/2 Futrell, Ignatian Discernment (Apr. 1970) 
2/3 Lonergan, Response of the Jesuit as Priest and Apostle (Sept. 1970) 
3/1 Wright, Grace of Our Founder and the Grace of Our Vocation (Feb. 1971) 
3/2 O'Flaherty, Some Reflections on Jesuit Commitment (Apr. 1971) 
3/4 Toner, A Method for Communal Discernment of God's Will (Sept. 1971) 
3/5 Sheets, Toward a Theology of the Religious Life (Nov. 1971) 
4/2 Two Discussions: I. Spiritual Direction, II. Leadership and Authority (Mar. 1972) 
4/3 Orsy, Some Questions about the Purpose and Scope of the General Congregation (June 1972) 
4/4 Ganss, Wright, O'Malley, O'Donovan, Dulles, On Continuity and Change: A Symposium 
(Oct. 1972) 
5/1-2 O'Flaherty, Renewal: Call and Response (Jan.-Mar. 1973) 
5/3 Arrupe, McNaspy, The Place of Art in Jesuit Life (Apr. 1973) 
5/4 Haughey, The Pentecostal Thing and Jesuits (June 1973) 
5/5 Orsy, Toward a Theological Evaluation of Communal Discernment (Oct. 1973) 
6/3 Knight, Joy and Judgment in Religious Obedience (Apr. 1974) 
7/1 Wright, Ganss, Orsy, On Thinking with the Church Today (Jan. 1975) 
7/2 Ganss, Christian Life Communities from the Sodalities (Mar. 1975) 
7/3 Connolly, Contemporary Spiritual Direction: Scope and Principles (June 1975) 
7/5 Buckley, The Confirmation of a Promise; Padberg, Continuity and Change in General 

Congregation XXXII (Nov. 1975) 
8/1 O'Neill, Acatamiento: Ignatian Reverence (Jan. 1976) 
8/2-3 De la Costa, Sheridan, and others, On Becoming Poor: A Symposium on Evangelical Poverty 
(Mar.-May 1976) 
8/4 Faricy, Jesuit Community: Community of Prayer (Oct. 1976) 
9/1-2 Becker, Changes in U.S. Jesuit Membership, 1958-75; Others, Reactions and Explanations 
(Jan.-Mar. 1977) 
9/4 Connolly, Land, Jesuit Spiritualities and the Struggle for Social Justice (Sept. 1977). 
9/5 Gill, A Jesuit's Account of Conscience (Nov. 1977) 
10/1 Kammer, "Burn-Out"— Dilemma for the Jesuit Social Activist (Jan. 1978) 
10/4 Harvanek, Status of Obedience in the Society of Jesus; Others, Reactions to Connolly-Land 

(Sept. 1978) 
11/1 Clancy, Feeling Bad about Feeling Good (Jan. 1979) 

11/2 Maruca, Our Personal Witness as Power to Evangelize Culture (Mar. 1979) 
11/3 Klein, American Jesuits and the Liturgy (May 1979) 
1 1/5 Conwell, The Kamikaze Factor: Choosing Jesuit Ministries (Nov. 1979) 
12/2 Henriot, Appleyard, Klein, Living Together in Mission: A Symposium on Small Apostolic 

Communities (Mar. 1980) 
12/3 Conwell, Living and Dying in the Society of Jesus (May 1980) 
12/4-5 Schineller, Newer Approaches to Christology and Their Use in the Spiritual Exercises (Sept. -No v. 

13/1 Peter, Alcoholism in Jesuit Life (Jan. 1981) 

13/3 Ganss, Towards Understanding the Jesuit Brothers' Vocation (May 1981) 

13/4 Reites, St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jews (Sept. 1981) 

14/1 O'Malley, The Jesuits, St. Ignatius, and the Counter Reformation (Jan. 1982) 

14/2 Dulles, St. Ignatius and Jesuit Theological Tradition (Mar. 1982) 

14/4 Gray, An Experience in Ignatian Government (Sept. 1982) 

14/5 Ivern, The Future of Faith and Justice: Review of Decree Four (Nov. 1982) 

15/1 O'Malley, The Fourth Vow in Its Ignatian Context 0an. 1983) 

15/2 Sullivan and Faricy, On Making the Spiritual Exercises for Renewal of Jesuit Charisms (Mar. 


15/3-4 Padberg, The Society True to Itself: A Brief History of the 32nd General Congregation of the 

Society of Jesus (May-Sept. 1983) 

Tetlow, Jesuits' Mission in Higher Education (Nov. 1983-Jan. 1984) 

O'Malley, To Travel to Any Part of the World: Jeronimo Nodal and the Jesuit Vocation (Mar. 


16/3 O'Hanlon, Integration of Christian Practices: A Western Christian Looks East (May 1984) 

16/4 Carlson, "A Faith Lived Out of Doors": Ongoing Formation (Sept. 1984) 

17/1 Spohn, St Paul on Apostolic Celibacy and the Body of Christ (Jan. 1985) 

17/2 Daley, "In Ten Thousand Places": Christian Universality and the Jesuit Mission (Mar. 1985) 

17/3 Tetlow, Dialogue on the Sexual Maturing of Celibates (May 1985) 

17/4 Spohn, Coleman, Clarke, Henriot, Jesuits and Peacemaking (Sept. 1985) 

17/5 Kinerk, When Jesuits Pray: A Perspective on the Prayer of Apostolic Persons (Nov. 1985) 

18/1 Gelpi, The Converting Jesuit 0an. 1986). 

18/2 Beirne, Compass and Catalyst: The Ministry of Administration. (Mar. 1986) 

18/3 McCormick, Bishops as Teachers and Jesuits as Listeners (May 1986) 

18/5 Tetlow, The Transformation of Jesuit Poverty (Nov. 1986). 

19/1 Staudenmaier, United States Technology and Adult Commitment (Jan. 1987) 

19/2 Appleyard, Languages We Use: Talking about Religious Experience (Mar. 1987) 

19/5 Endean, Who Do You Say Ignatius Is? Jesuit Fundamentalism and Beyond (Nov. 1987) 

20/1 Brackley, Downward Mobility: Social Implications of St. Ignatius's Two Standards (Jan. 1988) 

20/2 Padberg, How We Live Where We Live (Mar. 1988) 

20/3 Hayes, Padberg, Staudenmaier, Symbols, Devotions, and Jesuits (May 1988) 

20/4 McGovern, Jesuit Education and Jesuit Spirituality (Sept. 1988) 

20/5 Barry, Jesuit Formation Today: An Invitation to Dialogue and Involvement (Nov. 1988) 

21/1 Wilson, Where Do We Belong? United States Jesuits and Their Memberships (Jan. 1989) 

21/2 Demoustier, Calvez, et al., The Disturbing Subject- The Option for the Poor (Mar. 1989) 

21/3 Soukup, Jesuit Response to the Communication Revolution (May 1989) 

22/1 Carroll, The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (Jan. 1990) 

22/2 Bracken, Jesuit Spirituality from a Process Prospective (March 1990) 

22/3 Shepherd, Fire for a Weekend: An Experience of the Exercises (May 1990) 

22/4 O'Sullivan, Trust Your Feelings, but Use Your Head (Sept. 1990) 

22/5 Coleman, A Company of Critics: Jesuits and the Intellectual Life (Nov. 1990) 

23/1 Houdek, The Road Too Often Traveled (Jan. 1991) 

23/2 DiGiacomo, Ministering to the Young (March 1991) 

23/3 Begheyn and Bogart, A Bibliography on St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises (May 1991) 

23/4 Shelton, Reflections on the Mental Health of Jesuits (Sept. 1991) 

23/5 Toolan, "Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire" (Nov. 1991) 

24/1 Houdek, Jesuit Prayer and Jesuit Ministry: Context and Possibilities (Jan. 1992) 

24/2 Smolich, Testing the Water: Jesuits Accompanying the Poor (March 1992) 

24/3 Hassel, Jesus Christ Changing Yesterday, Today, and Forever (May 1992) 

24/4 Shelton, Toward Healthy Jesuit Community Living (Sept. 1992) 

24/5 Cook, Jesus' Parables and the Faith That Does Justice (Nov. 1992) 

25/2 Donahue, What Does the Lord Require? (March 1993)— ONCE AGAIN AVAILABLE 

25/3 Padberg, Ignatius, the Popes, and Realistic Reverence (May 1993) 

25/4 Stahel, Toward General Congregation 34 (Sept. 1993) 

25/5 Baldovin, Christian Liturgy: An Annotated Bibliography (Nov. 1993) 

26/1 Tetlow, The Most Postmodern Prayer (Jan. 1994) 

26/2 Murphy, The Many Ways of Justice (March 1994) 

26/3 Staudenmaier, To Fall in Love with the World (May 1994) 

26/4 Foley, Stepping into the River (Sept. 1994) 

26/5 Landy, Myths That Shape Us (Nov. 1994) 

27/1 Daley, "To Be More like Christ" (Jan. 1995) 

27/2 Schmidt, Portraits and Landscapes (March 1995) 

27/3 Stockhausen, I'd Love to, but I Don't Have the Time (May 1995) 

27/4 Anderson, Jesuits in Jail, Ignatius to the Present (Sept. 1995) 

27/5 Shelton, Friendship in Jesuit Life (Nov. 1995) 

28/1 Begheyn, Bibliography on the History of the Jesuits (Jan. 1996) 

28/3 Clooney, In Ten Thousand Places, in Every Blade of Grass (May 1996) 

28/4 Starkloff, "As Different As Night and Day" (Sept. 1996) 

28/5 Beckett, Listening to Our History (Nov. 1996) 

29/1 Hamm, Preaching Biblical Justice (Jan. 1997) 

29/2 Padberg, The Three Forgotten Founders (March 1997) 

29/3 Byrne, Jesuits and Parish Ministry (May 1997) 

29/4 Keenan, Are Informationes Ethical? (Sept. 1997) 

29/5 Ferlita, The Road to Bethlehem-Is It Level or Winding? (Nov. 1997) 

30/1 Shore, The Vita Christi ofLudolph of Saxony and Its Influence on the Spiritual Exercises of 

Ignatius of Loyola (Jan. 1998) 

30/2 Starkloff, "I'm No Theologian, but . . . (or So . . . )?" (March 1998) 

30/3 Torrens, The Word That Clamors (May 1998) 

30/4 Petrik, "Being Sent" (Sept. 1998) 

30/5 Jackson, "One and the Same Vocation" (Nov. 1998) 

31/1 Clifford, Scripture and the Exercises (Jan. 1999) 

31/2 Toohig, Physics Research, a Search for God (March 1999) 

31/3 Fagin, Fidelity in the Church— Then and Now (May 1999) 

3 1/4 Schineller, Pilgrim Journey of Ignatius (Sept. 1999) 

31/5 Fullam, Juana, S.J.: Status of Women in the Society (Nov. 1999) 

32/1 Langan, The Good of Obedience in a Culture of Autonomy (Jan. 2000) 

32/2 Blake, Listen with Your Eyes (March 2000) 

32/3 Shelton, When a Jesuit Counsels Others (May 2000) 

32/4 Barry, Past, Present, and Future (Sept. 2000) 

32/5 Starkloff, Pilgrimage Re-envisioned (Nov. 2000) 

33/1 Kolvenbach et al., Faith, Justice, and American Jesuit Higher Education (Jan. 2001) 

33/2 Keenan, Unexpected Consequences: Persons's Christian Directory (March 2001) 

33/3 Arrupe, Trinitarian Inspiration of the Ignatian Charism (May 2001) 

33/4 Veale, Saint Ignatius Asks, "Are You Sure You Know Who I Am?" (Sept. 2001) 

33/5 Barry and Keenan, How Multicultural Are We? (Nov. 2001) 

34/1 Blake, "City of the Living God" (Jan. 2002) 

34/2 Clooney, A Charism for Dialog (March 2002) 

34/3 Rehg, Christian Mindfulness (May 2002) 

34/4 Brackley, Expanding the Shrunken Soul (Sept. 2002) 

34/5 Bireley, The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War (Nov. 2002) 

35/1 Barry, Jesuit Spirituality for the Whole of Life (Jan. 2003) 

35/2 Madden/Janssens, The Training of Ours in the Sacred Liturgy (March 2003) 

35/3 Marcouiller, Archbishop with an Attitude (May 2003) 

35/4 Modras, A Jesuit in the Crucible (Sept. 2003) 

35/5 Lucas, Virtual Vessels, Mystical Signs (Nov. 2003) 

36/1 Rausch, Christian Life Communities for Jesuit University Students? (Spring 2004) 

36/2 Bernauer, The Holocaust and the Search for Forgiveness (Summer 2004) 

36/3 Nantais, "Whatever!" Is Not Ignatian Indifference (Fall 2004) 

36/4 Lukacs, The Incarnational Dynamic of the Constitutions (Winter 2004) 

37/1 Smolarski, Jesuits on the Moon (Spring 2005) 

37/2 McDonough, Clenched Fist or Open Hands? (Summer 2005) 

37/3 Torrens, Tuskegee Years (Fall 2005) 

37/4 O'Brien, Consolation in Action (Winter 2005) 

38/1 Schineller, In Their Own Words (Spring 2006) 

38/2 Jackson, "Something that happened to me at Manresa" (Summer 2006) 

38/3 Reiser, Locating the Grace of the Fourth Week (Fall 2006) 

38/4 O'Malley, Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism (Winter 2006) 


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